Tricare Ends Unpopular Pilot Program in Philippines

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Tricare coverage for users living in the Philippines shifted Jan. 1 to the same system used in other areas outside the U.S., marking the end of an unpopular pilot program.

The program, known as the Philippine Demonstration, started in 2013 as officials attempted to stymie a flood of provider fraud in that country.

Rather than allow any provider to become a part of Tricare's preferred provider network as is done in other OCONUS locations, Tricare officials instead "certified" each provider it worked with in the country, officials said. Doing so helped guard against fraud while also making sure providers were qualified, they said.

But the approximately 10,000 military retirees living on the country's 2,000 inhabited islands complained that the program forced them to travel long distances, often between islands, to be seen, and created confusion about who and what was covered.

Rather than extend the program or expand it to other areas, Tricare officials chose to let it terminate on its originally scheduled date of Dec. 31, 2017.

That means Tricare users -- and providers -- in the Philippines will instead use the same overseas Tricare Select system, formerly known as Standard, used elsewhere outside the U.S., officials said.

Learn more about Tricare's OCONUS coverage.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.